4th Edition

Concepts and Theories of Human Development

ISBN 9781848728318
Published April 30, 2018 by Routledge
606 Pages

USD $88.95

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Book Description

Concepts and Theories of Human Development is the most comprehensive and in-depth overview of the foundational theoretical contributions to understanding human development and the influence of these contributions for contemporary research and application in developmental science. Since its initial publication in 1976, it has been an essential resource for students and professionals alike, and has become the go-to book for graduate students studying for their comprehensive exam on human development. In this new Fourth Edition, Richard M. Lerner concentrates his focus on advanced students and scholars already familiar with the basic elements of major psychological theories.

The book discusses the assumptions involved in such topics as stage theories, the nature-nurture issue, the issue of continuity-discontinuity, and the important role of philosophical ideas about theories – in particular, metatheories – in understanding the links between theory and research. It particularly focuses on relational developmental systems (RDS) metatheory, exploring its roots in the 1930s, following its development into the present day, and contrasting it with the fundamentally flawed genetic reductionist models that continue to be circulated by scientists, the media, and the general public. It discusses implications of theory for research methods and for applications aimed at the promotion of health, positive development, and social justice among diverse people across the life span.

Table of Contents

Foreword Michael E Lamb and Marc H Bornstein


1. On the Primacy of Concepts and Theories

2. Concepts and Theories within Contemporary Developmental Science: An Overview

3. Philosophical and Scientific Roots of Contemporary Developmental Science

4. Metatheoretical Models of Development

5. Theoretical Roots of Contemporary Developmental Science: Nomothetic (Stage), Differential, and Idiographic (Ipsative) Approaches

6. Toward Resolving the Nature–Nurture Controversy: Contributions and Implications of the Scholarship of Anne Anastasi

7. Toward Resolving the Nature-Nurture Controversy: Contributions and Implications of the Scholarship of T. C. Schneirla

8. Contributions and Implications of the Scholarship of Heinz Werner: The Orthogenetic Principle and the Resolution of the Continuity–Discontinuity Issue

9. Relational Developmental Systems-Based Theories: Comparative, Evolutionary, and Ontogenetic Conceptions

10. Relational Developmental Systems-Based Theories: Sample Cases

11. Genetic Reductionism in Developmental Science: Sample Cases from the 20th Century

12. Genetic Reductionism in Developmental Science: Sample Cases from the 20th and 21st Centuries

13. Some Implications of Relational Developmental Systems-Based Theories for Research Methods and for the Application of Developmental Science


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Richard M. Lerner is the Bergstrom Chair in Applied Developmental Science and the Director of the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development, in the Eliot Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development, at Tufts University.


"Richard M. Lerner presents a totally up-to-date picture of the contemporary tenets of Developmental Science; including its metatheoretical, theoretical, methodological, empirical, and applied dimensions. This is an enormously important contribution that represents a sea change in our thinking about and investigating human development. Lerner is perfectly positioned to present this sea change as his work has been at its leading edge. This is a must-read book for anyone interested in developmental processes. It will be of particular value to psychologists, philosophers, biologists, sociologists, economists, and the medical and educational communities." - Willis F. Overton, Temple University, USA

"In this masterful fourth edition of his Concepts and Theories of Human Development, Lerner continues to set the bar for ‘what every good developmentalist should know’ about the field. More than other ‘concepts and theories’ types, Lerner not only understands and appreciates the role of methods in developmental research, he relentlessly promotes it." - John R. Nesselroade, University of Virginia, USA

"In his seminal book Lerner discusses and evaluates crucial theoretical approaches to developmental science and their conceptual history, and analyzes examples of theoretically well-taken and ill-fated studies. The advice for gaining better insights in the complex dynamics of development is a must for every young and seasoned researcher and interventionist in the field." - Rainer K. Silbereisen, University of Jena, Germany